Fairmile D-class Motor Torpedo Boat
|Displacement||90 tons standard|
|Machinery||Four Packard 4M 2500 petrol engines|
|Power Output||5,000 SHP|
|Range||2,000 miles at 11 knots|
|Armament||1x 2-pounder gun, 2x20mm Oerlikon cannon, 2x0.5in machine guns, 4x Vickers Go guns plus one Holman projector as gunboat or 2x21in torpedoes as torpedo boat|
Contributor: Alan Chanter
This article refers to the entire Fairmile D-class; it is not about an individual vessel.
ww2dbaseWhilst the 49-ton Vosper Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) were quite adequate against unarmed or lightly armed enemy merchant shipping the Admiralty soon felt that something bigger and more heavily armed would be needed to take on a stronger opponent such as the powerful German S-boats. Fortunately, in 1939 the Admiralty had already considered such a vessel, to employ a revolutionary hull consisting of a flat after section to facilitate high speed planing but with a rounded form forward to allow for pitching without severe slamming. The pitching itself being further reduced by a significant increase in length to 110 feet (33.53 m) which resulted in a sharply inclining chine.
ww2dbaseFairmile, a new company, were given the task of preparing the design. From this, actual construction was entrusted largely to many minor shipyards which hitherto had only built pleasure craft. This was done by supplying prefabricated kits from Fairmile. In all some 250 such kits being eventually supplied.
ww2dbaseThe Fairmile D boats were powered by four 4,800 hp Packard engine, without the wartime luxury of a gearbox, driving the shallow-draft vessel through four shafts with small diameter propellers. The boats were generally fitted out either as 90-ton Motor Gun Boats (MGB) or combined (105-ton) Motor Torpedo and Gun Boats (MTB/MGB). Some later builds would eventually grow to a displacement of 120 tons.
ww2dbaseThe first units were commissioned in 1942 and proved to be highly weather-able, operating equally well in cold Norwegian coastal waters or the warmer temperatures along the North African coastline. With Royal Navy Regular Officers and Seamen needed to man the Navy's larger vessels, crews for these boats would come from RNVR reservists. Many of their keen young officers were extremely proud to have been entrusted with a Command of their own (no matter how small)and were soon creating some of the bravest and efficient crews imaginable.
ww2dbasePerhaps one of the most famous incidents in which a Motor Gun Boat was involved, was that of MGB-314 (actually a Fairmile C type boat), Commanded by Lt. Dunstan Curtis, during the famous Commando raid on the Normandie Dock at St. Nazaire during the night of March 28, 1942. MGB-314 was earmarked as the Command boat for the operation and carried aboard both Colonel Charles Newman and Commander Robert Ryder (the respective Land and naval force commanders). During this action Able Seaman William Savage, who was manning the forward two-pounder pom-pom would, despite being mortally wounded steadfastly man his gun until ultimately succumbing to his wounds. A dedication that would earn him a posthumous Victoria Cross.
Warships of World War II (Collins/Janes, 1996)
Janes Fighting ships of World War II (Studio, 1989)
Hand Of Steel (Rupert Butler, Hamlyn, 1980)
The War at Sea (John Winton, Book club Associates/Hutchinson Publishing, 1974)
Last Major Revision: Jan 2008
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